Our Mission

At GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) we offer support to those seeking asylum in Gloucestershire, welcoming them when they arrive, advocating for them in their daily struggles, supporting them if they face being sent back as well as helping them adjust to their long term future if they are recognised as refugees.

Contact Information

Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS)
The Trust Centre
Falkner St
Gloucester
GL1 4SQ

Telephone: 01452 550528
email: info@garas.org.uk
www.garas.org.uk

Director
Adele Owen

REFLECTIONS ON TEN YEARS!

September 27, 2013

Our Director, Adele Owen, reflects on ten years at the helm of GARAS:

In September 2003 I moved from being a volunteer at GARAS into the post of Director and so it seems a good time to reflect.

Over that time I have met some amazing people and heard some devastating stories, I have been delighted at good news and been frustrated and distressed for those who have been refused or worse, forcibly removed back to danger.

Certain events stand out, I recall a very depressing November evening walk in the pouring rain after visiting two people being held in Police Custody. In that situation, despite our efforts, we were unable to prevent them being returned to their home countries. For both of them this was a dangerous move and seriously endangered their lives. I am glad to say that for one after several years he was able to find safety in Canada. (Facebook is a wonderful way for keeping in touch!)

There have been the days we have celebrated good news, positive decisions, citizenship, marriages, births, all of life is here! Every piece of work we do involves individual human beings, with their complexities. Which is why we remain frustrated; frustrated by circumstances that cause obstacles, policies and procedures that are difficult to breach and a public perception that is perpetuated by some aspects of the media who seem to intentionally misinform.

Circumstances that include not being believed and bureaucracies that forget they are working with individuals. This includes the regular changes in the Home Office that have knock on effects as delays get longer! Government policies and procedures that get harder with each successive year. We now await the role out of an Immigration Act that promises to tie everything together seamlessly!

As for the public perception and the media……..It remains a frustration that has been here for the entire ten years, that certain aspects of the British press are happy to perpetuate myths and use inaccurate language to describe any area of migration

However, despite the frustrations, I remain passionate in the work we do at GARAS and hope we can continue to provide this support in Gloucester for as long as it is needed.

Spirit of Philanthropy

September 26, 2013

A letter is on its way to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, suggesting that he might like to put his money where is mouth is regarding philanthropy and suggest he and his ‘super rich’ contacts donate some of their surplus cash to GARAS.  Have you seen his latest comments which tie in with his visit from the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg?

If you, dear reader, would like to donate to the work of GARAS, helping refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants in Gloucestershire, please visit our website for information on how you can contact us and give financially as a one off, set up a standing order, or donate other items to support our work.  All donations gratefully received!

Syrian refugees

September 24, 2013

Click here for details of contacting your MP about accepting refugees from Syria given the current crisis.

The following is taken from the Refugee Council: On Monday night, the Prime Minister called Syria the “refugee crisis of our time”. Sadly, he is right. At more than 2 million, Syrians are now the largest refugee group in the world. 52% of these are children.

I am writing to ask you to email your MP calling on the Government to provide a safe haven to some of the most vulnerable fleeing the war.

The vast majority of Syrian refugees are seeking protection in one of the crowded camps on the border in extremely difficult conditions. Only 0.1% of Syrians fleeing the violence have found safety in the UK.

Today, we are urging David Cameron to take practical action to ease the strain on neighbouring countries that are near breaking point. We want the Government to work with other European Union member states to establish a Europe-wide humanitarian evacuation and resettlement programme.

We need your help

Please email your MP today calling on the UK Government to share some of the responsibility for protecting the most vulnerable people fleeing the conflict. You can do this quickly and simply via the Refugee Council website.

Tell your MP that the UK must help the most vulnerable fleeing the war find safety.

Thank you.

Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX)

September 6, 2013

Thanks to John O for sending this round:

Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX)

[In a Meeting at Porcullis House, Westminster, London, on Wednesday 4th September 2013, The theme ‘creation of a strong coalition to campaign on the issue of immigration and to change the tone of the public debate on xenophobia’. Those *attending agreed the following statement.]

It is with alarm that we are witnessing the development of increasing hostility, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance towards immigrants.

We are gravely concerned at the tone of public discussion about immigration in the press and from politicians, which is contributing to a climate of hostility and fear. Government, Opposition and other mainstream political parties are directly participating in a race to the bottom in this regard.

Migrants make a substantial contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services. The multicultural and prosperous Britain that exists today has been created through generations of immigration and acceptance of refugees which is not recognised in the mainstream public discourse about immigration and asylum.

We believe austerity measures and public sector cuts are producing real tensions among communities living in deprived neighbourhoods. Those denied access to benefits and services are pushed to the margins of society and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

British nationals, long-term residents and their families with spouses or civil partners and relatives from non-EU countries are subject to draconian and discriminatory immigration controls that wreck family life. These measures are splitting up ordinary families through the lack of an arbitrary level of income.

We reject as unacceptable the scapegoating of immigrants that sections of the media and politicians of all mainstream parties participate in. We reject moves to oblige workers and landlords to inform on people’s immigration status, measures which will engender an atmosphere of mistrust and threaten social cohesion.

In this context of growing racism, the threat of racist violence has increased against all migrant communities in Britain – with the number of race hate crimes in London and other places rising markedly.

– We call for an end to attempts by political parties, their leaders and the media to exploit racism and xenophobia for their own vested interests.

– We call upon the Government to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration and to pursue an immigration system built on human rights and the economic needs of the UK.

– We call for the media to show responsibility and to put an end to the publication of sensational and unfounded stories which incite racial hatred and hatred towards migrants and refugees.

– We will defend the right of refugees to seek asylum in the UK under the 1951 Geneva Convention. We insist that while seeking asylum, people should be treated with respect and afforded fundamental liberties.

– We call for an amnesty for irregular migrants in the UK, allowing them to work and pay taxes, thus contributing fully to society.

– We pledge to resist any attacks on human rights. Any such attack on the European Convention on Human Rights or domestic legislation would be primarily aimed at immigrants and then used against ordinary British people.

– We pledge to speak out against racism and xenophobia and to defend migrant communities and refugees.

We want to live in a civilised society where people, irrespective of background, are valued and treated with respect. We are migrants, descendants of migrants and ‘indigenous’ British people. We stand together for a diverse and inclusive society. We believe we can live together with dignity and peace, learning from each other’s differences and contributing to a better place for us and future generations to live in.

Join with us in rejecting this move towards intolerance, and join the fight for a more inclusive UK.

The next meeting of MAX will be held in three weeks time on Wednesday 25th September

The meeting will be open to Community/Faith groups /Migrant Friendly NGOS/ Trade Union branches

If you wish to attend or need more information Contact:

Guy Taylor
Campaigns & Communications
JCWI, 115 Old Street, London EC1V 9RT

Initial MAX launch Meeting at Porcullis House, Westminster, London, 4th September 2013

*Present at the meeting were:
Lee Jasper, SLIM
Saira Grant, JCWI
Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice
Ruth Grove-White, MRN
Season Butler, Counterfire
Lindsey German, STW / People’s Assembly
Jack Tan, JUST West Yorkshire
Pauline Walcott, Strickly Roots
Hilary Brown, Society of Black Lawyers
Joseph Choonara, SWP
Steve Green, BritCits
Sonel Mehta, BritCits
Mohammed Khaled Noor, Muslim Professionals Forum
Dave Weaver, 1990s Trust
Peter Herbert, Society of Black lawyers
Habib Rahman, JCWI
Guy Taylor, JCWI (chaired the meeting)

Minister for Immigration on the Radio

August 22, 2013

On Friday 23rd August, the Minister for Immigration Mark Harper MP will be answering questions on BBC Radio Gloucestershire between 10:30 and 11:30am. Listen out for what could be some interesting question and answers. Remember that Mark is also the MP for the Forest of Dean. So remember that if you are one of his constituents, whenever you write to him you are writing to the Immigration Minister directly.

We occasionally run campaigns. If you are interested in being added to our campaigns list, please contact info@garas.org.uk .

BBC Radio Gloucestershire can be heard in the county on the following frequencies:

104.7 FM
1413 MW
95 FM in Stroud
95.8 FM in Cirencester